McMobil topic of forum

Staff Writer

The Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference will host a discussion on the planned development for the McMobil site at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 6 at the United Church of Hyde Park, 1448 E. 53rd St.

The meeting, which will be open to the public, will include information from zoning experts, attorneys and urban planners.

Tim Barton, who was project coordinator for the Chicago Zoning Reform Commission, helped to supervise the 2004 Chicago zoning ordinance. He will speak to the potential within the ordinance for communities to participate in building their neighborhood.

He will also discuss how the planned development will allow the project to be constructed with the zoning change, among other topics.

“A planned development is layered on top of [the zoning designation for this site] B3-5 but it can have all its own provisions,” Barton said. “The whole idea behind those is planned developments are bigger — just by nature of them — and so there’s [more] flexibility built into them … than would otherwise be allowed.”

Adam Kingsley is a zoning attorney with O’Donnell & Assoc. in Libertyville. He worked with Woodlawn Home Owners Association to negotiate Planned Development 43 Subsection O, which outlines the University of Chicago’s plans for the 5700 Block of Woodlawn Avenue. PD43 is considered a compromise that allowed the university to develop its property on the block while maintaining the residential feel of the street.

Kingsley will discuss the current zoning designation for the McMobil site and what the changed zoning designation would allow. He will also discuss the process of changing a zoning designation, including what options the community has to voice its opinion.

Kingsley will focus on the process of changing a zoning designation from a legal standpoint. “I’m not going to weigh in on the pros [and cons] of the development,” Kingsley said.

John Norquist, president of the Congress for the New Urbanism, will also speak about best urban planning practices. He will speak about developments designed to encourage transit use, pedestrians and traffic and parking.

“It could work if you have a really great transit system,” Norquist said. He cited high-rises near the Belmont Red Line stop as examples of taller buildings that have worked in the neighborhood, despite being surrounded by shorter buildings.

“There’s basically two ways that tall buildings are appropriate. That it is the scale of the neighborhood or you have really great transit. If you have really great transit, that gives you the opportunity to go higher. “